Financial Planning and Advice Blog for Syracuse

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Five Tips For Talking About Money With Your Family

By highpointadvisors November 23, 2015

6265879733_96362f1284_zIt may not be romantic, but finances are an important part of any marriage. When couples are not on the same page about money, problems can, and often do, promptly ensue. Poor financial decisions can also set a bad example for children. For all these reasons and more, families should work hard to improve their financial communication. Here are five tips an independent financial advisor would endorse. 1. Create A Budget One of the most common sources of conflict in a marriage is unapproved spending by either spouse. When these choices are made unilaterally, without discussion, the other spouse tends to feel left out. Creating a budget or spending plan can help couples come to an agreement about what's important to the family from a financial perspective. It can also help them avoid feelings of resentment that may stem from a perceived lack of accountability. Although they need not concern themselves with the dollars and cents of budgeting, children should be taught the importance of spending limits. Parents can do this by emphasizing the difference between wants and needs with regard to any spending decision. An experienced independent financial advisor can help families create a personalized spending plan. 2. Set Goals The main reason budgets are important, especially for young families, is that they create financial focus. Whether the objective is a new home, braces for the kids, or a college fund, the only way to reach those goals is to save more and spend less. When created with input from an independent financial advisor, a spending plan can help families achieve that end much sooner than expected. 3. No Blame Game All families have a person who is entrusted with making most of the spending decisions. To avoid playing the blame after every shopping trip, families should discuss what constitutes a wise or foolish purchase. When families agree on spending limits beforehand, the risk of conflict can be greatly reduced. Healthy, open communication about finances also teaches children valuable lessons that will last a lifetime. 4. Reduce Spending One of the best way to encourage saving as a family unit is to actively organize and assign household chores. Both parents and children can get in on the act by handling tasks that would otherwise require outside help, e.g., cleaning person, landscaper, handyman, etc. Families can also work together to reduce monthly spending on household utilities. Shutting off the lights in unoccupied areas and lowering the thermostat a degree or two can reduce expenses by a significant amount. 5. Set A Good Example When it comes to finances, the old "Do as I say, not as I do" approach never really works, especially when children are involved. As a result, the children of spenders often turn out to be spenders, while the children of savers almost always turn out to be savers. For parents who want to impart financial responsibility, it's impossible to have it both ways. With the help of these simple tips and an independent financial advisor, families can talk about money in a healthy, productive way....

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Financial Planning for Parents of College-Bound Students

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By highpointadvisors November 4, 2015

Financial planning is a process that should begin long before an individual gets married and has children, but it is one that can be initiated at any life stage. There is no such thing as too late when it comes to considering the future. For parents preparing for their child's educational futures, the earlier the start, the better. There are several options for setting children up for a successful future, and the right choice depends on the family's income and circumstances, as well as plans and goals. Traditional Savings Accounts Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 12.07.37 PM The most common path families follow to begin their financial planning is to set up a savings account for their young child. While this may be an adequate start for stashing away a few thousand in the early, lean years of marriage and raising children, it may not be the most efficient choice. Depending upon the family's resources and income level, having assets in the child's name may actually hurt his or her chance at getting financial aid and important tax breaks when the time comes to acquire the money needed for college. Trust Funds Like a traditional savings account, a UTMA or UGMA, which are "Uniform Transfer to Minors Act," and "Uniform Gift to Minors Act" respectively, put assets into the child's name. The disadvantage is that these accounts may have an impact upon future asset assessments used to determine eligibility for scholarships or financial aid. The advantage to these types of accounts is that the money is earmarked for the child's use when they come of age. Specific Use Savings Options Some financial planning tools are geared for a specific use. Products like a Roth IRA, which can be set up when the child is old enough to earn his or her own income, are long-term savings plans that allow for money to be withdrawn in certain circumstances or for specific expenses, like college. Other tools, like 529 plans, are set up with tax breaks and other incentives and are specifically tailored to cover educational expenses. Whether a family begins thinking about financial planning early on, or it's a topic that comes up when the children start school, it's never too late to begin preparing for the future. A qualified advisor can help families navigate the complexities of saving and help ensure students have the best possible foundation for their educational future. - The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Prior to investing in a 529 Plan, investors should consider whether the investor's or designated beneficiary's home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state's qualified tuition program. Withdrawals used for qualified expenses are federally tax-free. Tax treatment at the state level may vary. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor....

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